As the chief executive officer of software giant Oracle, Safra Catz is one of the most powerful women in the world today.
Known to carry a solid and determined persona, Catz has managed to maintain Oracle’s status as a global player despite seeing stiff competition from other companies such as Microsoft, Intel, and Amazon. Catz also belongs in the world’s highest-paid female CEOs list, averaging a net pay of $40 million per year.
Childhood and Education:—
Safra Ada Catz was born in Holon, Israel, on December 1, 1961. She is taken to a Jewish mother and father, with her father originally hailing from Romania. Her mom was also a survivor of the holocaust, the genocide that targeted European Jews between 1941 and 1945.
Catz moved with her mother and father to the US at six and settled in Brookline, Massachusetts, where she spent all her childhood. She graduated from Brookline High School and later received her bachelor’s diploma from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She then enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, wherein she received her Juris Doctorate in 1986.
Also a member of the Chi Omega fraternity, Catz was described by former fraternity president Melanie Shain as “a very focused young woman unceasingly working towards her goals.” Catz would carry that work ethic throughout her profession.
Catz began her profession as a banker for Wall Street investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin, & Jenrette (DLJ). She worked at the financial institution for thirteen years and maintained numerous positions, including managing director and senior vice president.
In 1997, she requested to be relocated to Silicon Valley to construct stronger customer relations. Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse acquired DLJ in August 2000 for $11.5 billion. Credit Suisse still uses the DLJ brand for its private equity operations today.
Oracle Executive and CEO:—
After more than a decade at DLJ, Catz joined Oracle Corporation in 1999 as senior vice president. Even at the beginning of her career at Oracle, she was determined to drastically improve the company’s financial standing through her experience at DLJ.
In less than two years, Catz was placed on the Oracle board and named co-president in 2004. She is credited for the company’s acquisition of tech company PeopleSoft in 2005 for $10.3 billion. PeopleSoft previously specialized in developing customer relationships, human resources, and financial management systems.
Catz was named the company’s chief financial officer in 2005 and would hold the position until today (she relinquished the role from 2008 to 2011). In the years that followed, she didn’t just take on more leadership roles and developed a strong partnership with Oracle founder and then CEO Lawrence Joseph Ellison (Larry Ellison). It was Ellison who personally recommended Catz to be included on the Oracle board.
In 2010, Catz was named co-president together with Mark Hurd. Holding one of the company’s top positions, she would soon become a regular fixture in Forbes and Fortune’s most powerful women list. After Ellison stepped down in 2014 to assume the role of executive chair and chief technology officer, Catz and Mark Hurd were chosen as the company’s co-presidents.
Following the death of Hurd in 2019, Catz became Oracle’s sole chief executive. Even during her time as the company’s top financial officer, she was already pursuing an aggressive acquisition strategy that would carry over until she was appointed co-president and then CEO. She has completed more than 100 acquisitions since 2005 and has already completed three purchases in the past three years. Although she maintains an autocratic leadership style, requiring employees to follow company policies and procedures strictly, she also preaches a culture of humility and accountability.
Aside from PeopleSoft, other notable acquisitions under Catz’s watch include Hyperion Corporation for $3.3 billion (2007), BEA Systems for $8.5 billion (2008), Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion (2010), Acme Packet for $2.1 billion (2013), MICROS Systems for $5.3 billion (2014), and NetSuite for $9.3 billion (2016). Many consider the NetSuite acquisition the biggest in Oracle’s 44-year history since Netsuite’s suite of software services was previously used by 40,000 companies in 100 countries.
The company also made headlines when it acquired Sun Microsystems and MICROS, with the former best known for developing the Java programming language and the Solaris operating system; at the same time, the latter provided enterprise applications for over 330,000 businesses in 180 countries.
Founded in 1977, Oracle is one of the world’s leading tech companies specializing in developing enterprise software, database software, and cloud engineering systems. Its most popular products include Oracle ERP, CRM, PLM, and Fusion Middleware, used mainly by companies operating large-scale operations. The company has seen a steady increase in revenues in the past two decades and is even forecasted to generate record-high revenues in 2021 ($11.2 billion for the quarter ending May 2021).
Accolades and Personal Life
Catz maintains her status as one of the world’s most potent, wit,h Fortune ranking her as #11 in 2020 most influential. She has a net worth of $1.7 billion stem an annual income of $40.7 million per year, one of the highest of any female CEO. She also serves on the Walt Disney Company board and teaches accounting at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Despite being a renowned business executive, Catz dislikes the limelight, rarely participates in interviews, and mostly spends her free time with her husband, Gal Tirosh, and two children, Gary and Scott.
Regarding one of the most successful women leaders, Oracle CEO Safra Catz ranks among the top. Her success story is mainly defined as an individual possessing a relentless attitude, resulting in Oracle not just maintaining its position as a global player but also beating out other big-name competitors along the way.